Home / News / India /  India Inc sees decarbonizing as primary sustainability goal

NEW DELHI : India Inc. needs to sharpen its focus on the wider ecosystem of decarbonizing businesses instead of only concentrating on using green energy, said Anish Shah, managing director and chief executive officer of Mahindra group, as companies make rapid strides towards adopting renewable forms of energy.

“Everything we have done so far is about greening ourselves. But we have to go beyond that and decarbonize industries," said Shah, speaking at the Climate Tech Convening India event in Mumbai on Friday, organized by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a US non-profit group focused on climate change.

“For example, an average automobile will generate 35 tonnes of carbon in its lifetime. If we look at an EV (electric vehicle), it will generate 27 tonnes of carbon in its lifetime. That’s not a big change. The product alone is not enough; the question is what is the source of the energy. For an EV, it is 27 tonnes because the energy source is still largely fossil. If we go to 100% renewable energy source, then it is seven tonnes. So, then, we still have to take care of the remaining seven tonnes, which is steel, transportation, etc. and that needs an ecosystem-based focus," he said.

Shah added that as part of Mahindra group’s efforts towards decarbonization, it has recently launched India’s first residential net zero carbon community.

“We are contemplating if we can commit to a date by which every single project that we are launching will be net zero carbon," he added.

Shah added that it is a myth that profits and sustainability are mutually exclusive choices.

“What we have seen is that what’s good for the planet is good for the business as well, not just in the IRRs (internal rate of returns) that you get from the project. It’s also the consumers that you attract, the brand that you build and the ecosystem around it," he said.

Sanjiv Mehta, managing director and CEO of Hindustan Unilever and president of industry body Ficci, said it is vital to accelerate development of climate technology while also easing access to finance to foster technological innovation.

“It is essential to accelerate the development of technology and access to finance. We need to show the same urgency as seen in the global covid-19 vaccine rollout and related technology transfer. Industry needs to invest more in R&D. We need deeper partnerships between governments, industry, research organizations and investors," said Mehta. He said technological jumps happen in leapfrogs and economies of scale can be quite dramatic in green technologies. “We know that investments made by businesses for renewable transition—both capex and opex—pays back in 3-5 years. This is not the case in many areas as yet. However, it was far from the case in renewables less than 5 years ago," said Mehta.

Amanda Leland, executive director of EDF, said India is well-positioned to decouple emissions from growth.

“India recognizes what is at stake and today, there is considerable and credible work being done to meet ambitious commitments. There is a broad consensus on the strategic and economic rationale for sustainable development," said Leland.

“India is a rich breeding ground of innovation with companies and investors who see the value proposition of hastening the transition to a clean economy in India. And in India, there are clearly high-impact options open to investors across the risk spectrum. An ecosystem of innovation, technology and finance will help India make meaningful progress on climate change," she said.


Swaraj Singh Dhanjal

" Based in Mumbai, Swaraj Singh Dhanjal is responsible for Mint’s corporate news coverage. For the past eight years he has been writing on the biggest deals in private equity, venture capital, IPO market and corporate mergers and acquisitions. An engineer and an MBA, he started his journalism career in 2014 with Mint. "
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